Bernstein, West Side Story (1957)
was too little to understand a lot of the story, but I loved it anyway. It can happen with a classic work that it will grow and unfold along with you over the course of your life. And so it was with me and West Side Story.” A fascinating and comprehensive website with much archival material and lyrics, as well as biographies of the collaborators. And a collaborative effort it was: Arthur Laurents wrote the play, the lyrics were by the prolific Stephen Sondheim, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins - all profiled in The story line shifts the action of Romeo and Juliet  from Verona to New York’s grimy back streets as a gang who see themselves as Americans feuds a gang of new arrivals from Puerto Rico. The original Broadway production ran for 732 performances.  One review “… idea-man Jerome Robbins has put together, and then blasted apart, the most savage, restless, electrifying dance patterns we've been exposed to in a dozen seasons .... the show rides with a catastrophic roar over the spider-web fire-escapes, the shadowed trestles, and the plain dirt battlegrounds of a big city feud” Much more in Wikipedia - musical and movie.
 Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) Internationally honoured composer, conductor, writer, educator and left-wing social activist, Bernstein may be regarded along with Copland as the greatest American musician of the 20th century. His music encompasses jazz rhythms and Jewish themes, choral and chamber works, film and ballet, and of course musicals. Many events around the world celebrate his centenary this year. Wikipedia has an excellent article on his life, his music and his influence. Listen to a podcast by Andrew Ford on Radio National this August, discussion and music. The Story of the Story Leonard’s daughter Jamie writes on “I myself have been a fan of West Side Story ever since my dad composed the score back in the fifties, when I was a little girl. I
The movie, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, premiered in 1961. It won ten Oscars. In July the MSO reprised their performance of the music with the film showing behind them on the big screen - programme here.

Our movie, Friday 7 Sept

Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris

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